LEAGUE ONE KICK-OFF: Darragh explains his formula for Posh success
Peterborough United chairman Darragh MacAnthony has written a pre-season piece on how he expects to return Championship football to the ABAX Stadium.
“My usual contribution to the PT Posh pre-season supplement is full of high aims, ambitions and targets year-to year.
“This year I have decided not to make them public due to the usual accusation of hyping up our players, team and giving unrealistic promises or expectations to our fans.
“I didn’t buy a football club to finish mid-table each season, to lose season tickets holders, to have unhappy supporters or have a club on the wane. What would the point in spending the kind of money I constantly put into Posh if that was always the outcome?
“I bought a football club to be successful, make a difference, win trophies, promotions, see goals galore scored by our team, build crowds, grow our support, build a stronger infrastructure behind the scenes, have a youth team producing talent into our first team squad, make our club a strong community asset for the city of Peterborough through the day-to-day work of our academies and our wonderful foundation.
“Last season finished with a whimper and saw us fail to reach the play-offs by a couple of wins, yet in that disappointment came so many good things which can propel us to our best period under my ownership.
“That is something I am convinced of regardless of the poor season ticket sales, some fan discontent and some of the issues we face off the field as a football club.
“There was no major rebuild needed this summer due to the successful January transfer window we completed when many of those signings were made with an eye to this season.
“Instead our summer business has been about strengthening our defence and a couple of other key areas so we have a squad of 24 strong players to work through a potential 55-plus game season and see it through to the end goal of promotion.
“Re-signing some key players and extending their contracts was also key as was ensuring our sports science department was invested in and strengthened staff-wise top to bottom.
“Recruiting a good number two for the Gaffer was also key to give him the necessary ingredients to go about his work day-to-day with the playing squad and this I feel has been accomplished successfully and to his requests.
“Selling Conor Washington wasn’t the reason this squad failed to win promotion last season. Not keeping a settled 11 game-to-game was a key reason as was our horrible home form with nine losses in the last 12 games at the ABAX.
“Last season we had a strong first-choice XI, but an average squad so losing up to four of those key players weakened us for the second half of the season. Lessons have been learnt as shown by the recruitment effort this summer.
“It’s key I address the worry/angst/irritation amongst our fan base with regards to player sales of the bigger assets so we can move forward and not obsess over it.
“One of the key fundamental aims for me in running the club is to make it self-sufficient whilst still aiming to be a top-four side at all times and aiming for promotion to the Championship. To run Posh as a successful promotion-striving club back towards the Championship on 4.5k or 5k crowds is simply an impossibility bar the one-offs League One can throw up every now and again such as Burton or Yeovil.
“The 60% turnover rule would mean our budget would be in the bottom five or six clubs in League One and not allow us to go and recruit the kind of exciting talent we have all been used to witnessing in recent years.
“To operate a top six League One club vying for promotion back to the Championship on our gates, with our stadium overheads (highest in the 72 Fotball League clubs who rent stadia), our training ground costs, youth structure, wage bill and so on, means we usually have a League One financial deficit of approximately £2.5 million plus per annum.
“This can of course change with a cup run, while gates of 6.5k in a successful season can reduce it to £1.5 million and other unexpected bonuses like ex-player add-ons and so on.
“However, I am the person who always fronts this money should we not sell a key asset which has of course happened in seasons gone by, but our model is based on selling one key asset per annum for large sums of money to:
a) cover our deficit.
b) allow us to recruit two or three, sometimes more new playing talent.
c) Reduce other debt the club has.
d) Invest in the training ground and other club infrastructure.
“We are incredibly fortunate as a club due to our policy of having a playing squad asset value wise of £20 million plus which is only growing and will do so with further success.
“The majority of our assets are under 23 and improving and this is a good thing, not something to fear as I’m well aware of the importance of keeping the majority together so we can be successful on the field.
“Top talent will always come and go at Posh for the highest £ attainable which is a positive in our quest to improve the club long term even if at times it feels like a short-term approach.
“An example of our club model working would be to take two ex-youth team players now in the first team squad. One is only 17 and should we be successful in keeping him/developing him until we are playing Championship football again, we will see a player worth easily in today’s market £8-£10 million after a year of football playing in the second tier and in one fell swoop allow us to possibly buy our ground back.
“The other has already had three top clubs bid millions for him and he has only just turned 20.
“So as bad as things seem at times, overall it’s healthy for our club and our policy and now we need to put results into play to show how it is working for a club our size.
“None of this money usually makes its way to me unless we are in the Championship when I have historically been able to reduce the debt to me personally.
“Some fans have started conversations about interest payments made to me and the fact that I must be making three or four per cent on the money I have loaned the club and no wonder I put money in etc.
“Let me address this quickly once and for all so we can finally put that one to bed. I am prudent enough to know that I could easily make a lot more than the two, three or four per cent interest on the kind of money I loan into Posh elsewhere and get my money back quicker. The interest repaid to me in recent years has been to service loans I have taken out on assets like property or overdraft facilities and not to me personally.
“So no aims/ambitions/accused hype this year bar the following to happen which will mean we are, and will have, a very successful 2016/17 season:
Crowd growth of 20% on last season.
Average attendances of 6,500 plus per game.
Two home sell outs.
Season ticket growth next year of 20%.
Thousands of smiling Posh faces day to day in Peterborough.
Less unhappy twitter followers.
Am I allowed say ‘more goals then last season’ and most ‘clean sheets’ then ever before?
Plenty of international recognition for our young players.
Should all of the above happens this season, it will mean more than likely we once more we will be a Championship football club!
Enjoy the season.”